Fireworks return to Quartermaster Harbor on July 4

Planning for the Fourth? Here’s what you need to know

On the Fourth of July, the skies over Quartermaster Harbor will once again light up with the cascades and comet effects of a professional fireworks display, starting just after dusk.

As in years past on Vashon, the display will be funded by anonymous donors.

Plans for the show were confirmed by Rich Vaughan, the regional manager and show producer of Pyro Spectaculars, the fireworks company in charge of the event.

Vaughan said this year’s show on Vashon — launched from a barge in the center of the harbor — will be dazzling, with fireworks blooming high and wide in the sky, thanks to renewed availability of larger 12- and 16-inch shells.

A company in Michigan that is the source of those sized mortars was temporarily closed last year, so Pyro Spectaculars had to innovate using smaller shells for the 2023 Fourth of July shows on Vashon and elsewhere, Vaughan said. But now, the supplier is back in business.

Vashon’s display is one of 67 shows that Pyro Spectaculars will produce between July 1 and July 4.

Hydros race returns

Vashon’s annual hydroplane race — an event that has marked Independence Day on the island for almost seven decades — will commence at 5 a.m. Thursday, July 4, at Jensen Point Park.

In the days leading up to the race, expect to hear the high, whining sound of the boats practicing for the annual races.

This year’s race will boast at least six hydros, said Brian Brenno, a lifelong islander and hydrophane aficionado.

Brenno’s 2022 book, “4th of July Hydros: Circling Vashon Since 1955,” details the history of the noisy and thrill-packed island event — loved by many, hated by some, and tolerated as an island tradition by others.

Islanders in the final group, according to Brenno, are known for saying, with a shrug, “It only happens once a year.”

Fireworks ban

Consumer fireworks are banned throughout unincorporated areas in King County, so islanders aren’t allowed to light fireworks on their property or elsewhere.

The county encourages residents to find ways to celebrate July Fourth that don’t endanger residents, pets, or property. Violations of the ban can be emailed to or by calling 206-848-0800. Reports made by e-mail or by phone will be responded to the next business day.

In an email, Fire Chief Matt Vinci reminded islanders to use the email and phone number posted here to report violations instead of calling 911 about the illegal use of fireworks.

He didn’t mince words in discouraging the use of personal fireworks on Vashon.

“We encourage everyone to safely enjoy the July Fourth holiday by leaving the display of fireworks to the professionals,” Vinci said. “There are over 10,000 fireworks injuries and a dozen deaths annually across the county — let’s not add Vashon Island to the database.”

Fire safety is increasingly important on July Fourth and during warmer, dryer summer months, he added.

“I’m in regular discussion with the King County Fire Marshal on a Stage 1 Burn Ban to ensure that we reduce the risk to our island,” he said. “Along with the County Fire Marshal’s Office and our partners in South King County, we are sharing information and continue to monitor the moisture content, weather patterns, and fire mapping as we approach the July Fourth holiday.”

To ensure that adequate and effective resources are ready to deploy, Vashon Island Fire & Rescue will have several aid cars and fire suppression apparatus staffed, Vinci said.

“South King County Fire and EMS (emergency medical services) are historically busy during the July Fourth holiday,” he said. “It’s vital that we are adequately staffed to cover the island.”

Caring for Pets

Many pets are distressed and disoriented by fireworks.

To report a lost or found pet, visit to make a report to Vashon Island Pet Protectors. Islanders can also call VIPP at 206-389-1085 or email

Another island nonprofit rescue, Haven, will also provide support to islanders in response to the upcoming holiday.

The organization will provide free microchipping and ID tags for community members and their dogs from 12 to 5 p.m. Sunday, June 30, at Vashon Dance Academy, at 17645 100th Ave St SW, in Vashon Market IGA Plaza.

To pre-register, visit, though walk-ups are welcome.

Haven has also established year-round public microchip reading stations on Vashon, with easy-to-use microchip readers, dog treats, leashes, and DIY tag supplies. Station 1 is at the soon-to-be Heights Grocery Store (formerly Grange Hall) property adjacent to the north-end ferry parking lot. Station 2 is in the back lot at Fair Isle Animal Clinic, and Station 3 is at Engels Repair and Towing, on Dockton Rd SW. Station 4 is on the roadside, near Haven, on 131st Ave SW. Look for the mailboxes with pinwheels.

In addition, the organization will have a team of responders ready to search for and pick up a running or found pet.

Call or text Haven at 206-876-9652, or email